Entry-level 992-generation 911 gets a choice of gearboxes - at last
A Porsche 911 Carrera is a terrific car. Those aware of and who subscribe to the age-old adage that 'less is more' will see the phenomenon alive and well at the entry point to the world's most famous sports car nameplate. Only one thing annoys: if it is the Porsche 911 at its simplest, why can't you order it with a manual gearbox when one is available in the 911 Carrera S?Now we know. Porsche has been keeping that particular carrot up the 992-generation's sleeve since it was launched in 2018 for this, the new Porsche 911 Carrera T. Which means for the first time in the 992 era, the base 379bhp Carrera engine is available with three pedals. About time, too.Porsche launched a 'T' version of the 991-generation 911 as a run-out special in 2017, and it went sufficiently well for T badging to go on to adorn the Cayman, Boxster and Macan.The new 911 T follows a very similar recipe to the old: available only in rear-drive coupé form, it comprises a standard engine, a choice of gearboxes, a mechanical limited-slip differential and PASM active damping sports suspension. Additional weight is saved by using thin glass, and the rear seats become a no-cost option. Like the last T, four-wheel steering is available as an extra - an option denied buyers of the stock Carrera.But there are differences. The old T used the final-drive ratio from the Carrera S; the new one does not. The new T has a lightweight battery and Carrera S 20in and 21in wheel rims, and a sports exhaust. All in, the T costs just £1500 short of £100,000, which sounds like a vast amount but is in real terms actually a good few thousand less than the old T. That's inflation for you. But it is interesting to note that while the T costs £8700 more than a stock Carrera, it's only £4300 less than a Carrera S, which also has a manual gearbox as standard and a very considerable additional 65bhp.The visuals are fairly predictable: side logos, lots of trim and badging in dark 'Agate' grey, sports seats with SportTex upholstery and 911 logos on the headrests.How surprised would you be if I told you it were rubbish? It's not. On the contrary, your first and final thought when you drive the T is to ponder why on earth Porsche waited all this time to offer it. I suspect the marketing bods had something to do with that.What you find is something that just feels right. The only option of significance on our test car was four-wheel steering, and so equipped it felt so delightful that not once did I find myself craving more power, grip or drama. It felt perfectly balanced, the urge of the 3.0-litre twin-turbo motor matching perfectly the adhesion of the chassis, which is enhanced not only by those four steered wheels but also the limited-slip diff. There are many more exciting 911s you can buy, but only at a considerable premium that you may regard as simply not worth it.My only complaint was the manual gearbox. Seven ratios was too many when I first encountered it on the 991 more than a decade ago and remains so today. The six-speeder used on the 911 GT3 and Cayman GT4 is wildly preferable.But as a whole, you just find yourself wishing Porsche had done this car sooner. The base engine with a manual gearbox - light, simple, usable - is such an enticing prospect and the promise made is kept by the car in full. As I drove it back into downtown Los Angeles, I was already mentally speccing 'my' car: Gentian blue, four-wheel steer, dark upholstery, badge delete. The chance actually to do so would indeed be a fine thing.